The Tengu's Game of Go

BOOK: The Tengu's Game of Go
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Let us all go forth

Bridle to bridle and see

No doubt the blossoms

Are scattering like snowflakes

In the ancient capital

—from
Kokin Wakashū: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry
, translated by Helen Craig McCullough

 

THE TALE OF SHIKANOKO
LIST OF CHARACTERS

MAIN CHARACTERS

Kumayama no Kazumaru, later known as Shikanoko or
Shika

Nishimi no Akihime, the Autumn Princess,
Aki

Kuromori no
Kiyoyori
, the Kuromori lord

Lady
Tama
, his wife, the Matsutani lady

Masachika
, Kiyoyori's younger brother

Hina
, sometimes known as Yayoi, his daughter

Tsumaru
, his son

Bara
or Ibara, Hina's servant

Yoshimori, also Yoshimaru, the Hidden Emperor,
Yoshi

Takeyoshi, also Takemaru, son of Shikanoko and Akihime,
Take

Lady
Tora

Shisoku
, the mountain sorcerer

Sesshin
, an old wise man

The
Prince Abbot

Akuzenji
, King of the Mountain, a bandit

Hisoku
, Lady Tama's retainer

THE MIBOSHI CLAN

Lord
Aritomo
, head of the clan, also known as the Minatogura lord

Yukikuni no
Takaakira

The
Yukikuni lady
, his wife

Takauji
, their son

Arinori
, lord of the Aomizu area, a sea captain

Yamada Keisaku
, Masachika's adoptive father

Gensaku
, one of Takaakira's retinue

Yasuie
, one of Masachika's men

Yasunobu
, his brother

THE KAKIZUKI CLAN

Lord
Keita
, head of the clan

Hosokawa no
Masafusa
, a kinsman of Kiyoyori

Tsuneto
, one of Kiyoyori's warriors

Sadaike
, one of Kiyoyori's warriors

Tachiyama no
Enryo
, one of Kiyoyori's warriors

Hatsu
, his wife

Kongyo
, Kiyoyori's senior retainer

Haru
, his wife

Chikamaru, later Motochika,
Chika
, his son

Kaze
, his daughter

Hironaga
, a retainer at Kuromori

Tsunesada
, a retainer at Kuromori

Taro
, a servant in Kiyoyori's household in Miyako

THE IMPERIAL COURT

The
Emperor

Prince Momozono
, the Crown Prince

Lady Shinmei'in
, his wife, Yoshimori's mother

Daigen
, his younger brother, later Emperor

Lady Natsue
, Daigen's mother, sister of the Prince Abbot

Yoriie
, an attendant

Nishimi no
Hidetake
, Aki's father, foster father to Yoshimori

Kai
, his adopted daughter

AT THE TEMPLE OF RYUSONJI

Gessho
, a warrior monk

Eisei
, a young monk, later one of the
Burnt Twins

AT KUMAYAMA

Shigetomo
, Shikanoko's father

Sademasa
, his brother, Shikanoko's uncle, now lord of the estate

Nobuto
, one of his warriors

Tsunemasa
, one of his warriors

Naganori
, one of his warriors

Nagatomo
, Naganori's son, Shika's childhood friend, later one of the
Burnt Twins

AT NISHIMI

Lady Sadako
and
Lady Masako
, Hina's teachers

Saburo
, a groom

THE RIVERBANK PEOPLE

Lady Fuji
, the mistress of the pleasure boats

Asagao
, a musician and entertainer

Yuri
,
Sen
,
Sada
, and
Teru
, young girls at the convent

Sarumaru,
Saru
, an acrobat and monkey trainer

Kinmaru
and
Monmaru
, acrobats and monkey trainers

THE SPIDER TRIBE

Kiku
, later Master Kikuta, Lady Tora's oldest son

Mu
, her second son

Kuro
, her third son

Ima
, her fourth son

Ku
, her fifth son

Tsunetomo
, a warrior, Kiku's retainer

Shida
, Mu's wife, a fox woman

Kinpoge
, their daughter

Unagi
, a merchant in Kitakami

SUPERNATURAL BEINGS

Tadashii
, a tengu

Hidari
and
Migi
, guardian spirits of Matsutani

The dragon child

Ban
, a flying horse

Gen
, a fake wolf

Kon
and
Zen
, werehawks

HORSES

Nyorin
, Akuzenji's white stallion, later Shikanoko's

Risu
, a bad-tempered brown mare

Tan
, their foal

WEAPONS

Jato
, Snake Sword

Jinan
, Second Son

Ameyumi
, Rain Bow

Kodama
, Echo

 

1

ARITOMO

“Yoshimori has been found?” For years Lord Aritomo had both dreaded and longed for this news. Until he saw Yoshimori's corpse with his own eyes he would never feel secure about Emperor Daigen's reign. Once Yoshimori was dead, preferably executed in public as the son of a rebel and traitor, no one would be able to question the legitimacy of Daigen. Even Heaven would have to concede.

He noticed Masachika recoil very slightly as he leaned toward him. Aritomo knew his breath smelled of decay and that his men feared he was grievously sick, even dying. He saw it in their sideways glances, their nervous voices. Yet not one of them had the courage to confront him with their fears. They did not understand he would outlive them all, that this passing illness was the price he was paying for immortality. He used white powder to mask his yellowing skin and madder to give color to his cheeks and lips. He drank wine to dull the pain and took many other potions, concocted for him by his physicians. Nothing could alleviate the night sweats and the vomiting, or restore healthy flesh to his gaunt frame, but it would all be worth it in the end.

“It may be just another rumor,” Masachika replied. “Arinori reported it. Messengers came from Aomizu this morning. One of the owners of the pleasure boats, Lady Fuji, hinted that she knew where Yoshimori was.”

“Is it worth investigating? It could be a ploy to ingratiate herself with Arinori. They will do anything to avoid paying their dues, these women.”

“Indeed. And as we know the Aomizu lord is susceptible to such women, and inclined to be fanciful himself.”

Aritomo raised his eyebrows. He did not encourage his men in criticism and backbiting. It corroded their loyalty to one another and eventually to him. But he was always interested in their opinions. He wondered what Arinori would have to say about Masachika in return. He would probably not be so quick to criticize, for Masachika had a reputation for acting swiftly against any perceived rival, wiping out offenses in blood.

Masachika said, “However, the woman died, probably poisoned. The most likely suspect, one of her entertainers, disappeared the next day, fleeing into the Darkwood. What if Fuji really did know something and was silenced?”

Aritomo shifted his jaw from side to side as he did when he was thinking. The dull clicking was the only sound in the room.

BOOK: The Tengu's Game of Go
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